Fires in Brazil’s Pantanal makes two Brazilian states to declare state of emergency

Thousands of fire outbreaks were recorded in November, five times the average

Translated by: Ana Paula Rocha

Brasil de Fato | São Paulo (SP) |
Lack of rain boosts fires in the world’s largest wetland. - © Rogerio Florentino / AFP

Brazil’s Pantanal, the world’s largest wetland, recorded over 2,300 fire outbreaks during the first days of November, a scenario that worsened due to drought and intense hot weather. The states of Mato Grosso do Sul and Mato Grosso, whose territories are home to the biome, declared state of emergency in many cities. 

According to data collected by the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe, in Portuguese), the figures are five times the average for November. The decrees the two state governments published include the cities of Aquidauana, Corumbá, Miranda and Porto Murtinho, located in Mato Grosso do Sul, and all the area of Mato Grosso state. 

The fires started in October and surpassed 35,000 hectares. Over 70% of this area is part of the Negro River State Park. The fires also reached Pantanal National Park, the Dorochê Private Natural Heritage Reserve and the Meeting of Waters State Park.

In both documents, the local governments mention the lack of rain and the extreme hot weather as boosters to the current situation. The emergency scenario made it possible to transfer resources to the states and call for the support of federal civil defense. 

The work to put out the fires is being affected by strong winds in the region and difficulties accessing the areas. On Monday (13), the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama, in Portuguese) announced efforts to extinguish the fires and support the states. 

Almost 300 wildland firefighters (known in Brazil as “brigadistas”) and federal employees are working on the site. A work plan is being developed. The operation uses four airplanes and another two may be sent to support the actions. Ibama and the Chico Mendes Institute informed they will deploy more brigadistas to the area.  

Edited by: Rodrigo Chagas